Starting An Aquatic Therapy Program: A Q&A With Rock Valley PT
Rock Valley Physical Therapy in Davenport, IA invested in a HydroWorx 3500 pool in March 2017. Since then, they’ve seen very positive results, both in patient outcomes and business growth.
We recently spoke with Becky Burke, PT, DPT, GCS of Rock Valley PT, about how and why Rock Valley invested in an aquatic therapy system.
How did you start your aquatic therapy program?
Initially, we used a nearby YMCA pool for our aquatic patients. The YMCA gave us access to their pool from 1-4pm, four times a week. That was a great start but limited our ability to increase our patient volume. It was a difficult time-slot for our younger patients—our student athletes couldn’t come and many people work in the middle of the day. Now that we have a pool on-site, we see about 40 patients per week in the pool.
What is the key to getting patients interested in trying the pool?
Getting people in the pool, it’s all about education. I have aquatic patients who can’t swim and are initially very uncomfortable in the water. We have 3’ 5” foot and 5′ depths in our pool, and I tell them that if they are concerned, we can stay in the shallow part. They use the grab bars at first then we slowly remove them. We can get in the pool with them and use gait belts when needed. The key is putting them at ease and developing trust. Sometimes it takes a couple of visits.
What programming have you developed around the pool?
Prior to having the HydroWorx pool, we developed a private pay “maintenance” program for our geriatric patients. They used the YMCA pool as part of an independent exercise program upon discharge. We carried that over when we moved and bought our pool. Now, we have two hours blocked out every day for our maintenance program. Some of these “maintenance” members have been doing aquatic therapy for almost 10 years.
How did you decide who to partner with for your aquatic needs?
Through CE classes, I knew about HydroWorx, that they provided pools and I just looked at different types of companies and different types of pools. Then I went to visit a HydroWorx pool. We liked the treadmill aspect for our patient population. Now we just love the pool. It’s blown up even quicker than we expected. Patients enjoy it and talk about it to their friends and their medical providers. We’re thrilled with the investment.
Tell us about a case study involving the pool.
We have a patient with a very complex medical history, with multiple falls, a hip fracture and a neurological diagnosis. When she came for her initial evaluation, she couldn’t stand for more than 10 seconds without needing to sit. She was very apprehensive about getting in the water but we encouraged her to try.
We got her moving in the pool. The first barrier was pain. The pool helped greatly—she moved pain-free in the water. It provided something no other modality could, with the unweighting of her joints and the principles of water. Now, she’s walking with a walker, but it’s huge progress.
We love hearing about our partners’ successes and are always eager to share these stories with others who are looking for new ways to help their patients progress.
Download our Case Study, “Building a Successful Aquatic Therapy Program,” to learn how one physical therapy clinic in New York has expanded their practice>>